Determining Urgency to Fill a Vacancy

QUESTION: If you do not feel there is urgency for a client to fill a position, how do you address that with them? Do you tell the client you cannot help them with a position for that reason? – Jody  

ANSWER: Jody, great question and thank you for submitting it. Yes, I might try to establish urgency, so there is a lot in this question. 

I would really try to define what the ramifications are if the position remains open. Sometimes in that vein what will happen is you actually help them create awareness at a deeper level as to why they need to fill the position and what are the costs. Even if it is an accounting position, a payables, position, how is that job getting done now. Who is filling in for it? 

What you will find is usually there is much more urgency in a replacement position than a new position in that a brand new position you are adding head count and expanding. Granted, people are overworked, but it is the job they have been doing. When it is a replacement position, you will often find more urgency because now a few people are filling in and they are taking on additional tasks as soon as the person left. A lot of times if you dig there and you start uncovering costs, you can heighten urgency if there is not any.  

But to the main point of your question, if you go through all the questions to go deeper into their true needs and they are adamant that the new position is most important, because it is an expansion position. They may feel that it is more important to find the right person even if that takes 9 or 10 months.  

In some cases they have already found the perfect individual in one of the candidates you submitted. In fact, it could be the first person they interviewed. Yet, that person is not going to get hired because the client is thinking – What if I can find someone better? – even if they meet up everything they are looking for.  

So generally in that situation one of the things I say is, “If you are telling me you can wait 6 to 9 months to fill the position, it tells me there is really not a huge economic benefit that this person could fulfill. Have you thought about just not bringing them on at all?”  

Recruiters never have this type of conversation with the hiring manager, by the way. Have you ever thought of not bringing them on all? Save the money. If you are going to pay the person $150,000 plus benefits, plus payroll taxes, plus, plus, plus, maybe you can save $200,000 or $250,000 to the bottom line or reinvest that money someplace else. 

Now, I have had that conversation with people. Sometimes they just blow it off and sometimes it brings them back to, no, the reason we need to fill this is . . . 

So then, you really can’t afford to wait 6 to 9 months? So which one of the areas that you gave me as part of what you are looking for can you compromise on?  

Those are all the things I try to do before I abandon the assignment. If it all comes down and you are just not picking up anything, then I might say, “It sounds like you are more after shopping than hiring.  My fear for you, and I have done this a long time, is I could find Mr. or Ms. Perfect tomorrow, and if I do, you are going to say the day after tomorrow – Who do you have that is better? and I am not comfortable investing my time and resources in that. Why do we not reconnect in 6 months and if you have not filled the position.  Maybe, one, you have determined that you do not want to fill it because the job is still getting done and you are not losing money, or two, your urgency will be different.” That is probably just a very polite way of doing it.  

Now some people might say, well, what if they pay you a retainer? If they pay you a retainer, that tells me there is probably more urgency in there but you would have to then use your recruiter inner gut to ask yourself if you are going to now be married to this search and will it be a bad marriage?  

I did have a client a number of years ago who I had made a contingency placement with and he was difficult to work with and his requirements were of that Mr. Perfect. He goes, but Mike, I will give you money upfront on this one. I go, it does not mean I can manufacture the human being you are looking for and all I would be doing is I would be taking your money and not filling the position or having to work much harder than even if I filled the whole position at $22,000 would demand.  

There was a lot in that question. Great question. There are a lot of different angles, but the main thing is to sum it up, dig deeper to see if you can uncover urgency that they are not aware of, and if not, then at the end, like we said, I would dump them politely, unless you had a couple test candidates that you can try out and say, look, I am not sure, I have a couple people that come close, let us use those as sonar.  

Thanks for the question.  

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